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In Las Vegas during World War II, sweethearts Alvah Morrell and Lee Kingshead choose the quickest chapel in which to marry. Afterward, Lee, who boards at Alvah's vineyard with her mother Mama, and Alvah retire to their hotel nervously. As they kiss, Lee notices spots on Alvah's face, and the hotel doctor soon diagnoses chicken pox. Although Alvah has only a two-day leave to enjoy his honeymoon, Lee has never had chicken pox, so the two must be separated. Ten months later, Alvah is still overseas and Lee has still not revealed her marriage to Mama, who wants Lee to marry her boss, cement plant tycoon Herman Strouple. Mama has invited more than a dozen members of the Kingshead family to live at Alvah's, convincing Lee that in doing so she is supporting the war efforts by providing more laborers for the plant. Although Mama secretly smokes and listens to the horse races, she manipulates Lee by pretending to have a weak heart and delicate constitution. One night, Alvah surprises Lee by returning for a one-week leave. As they embrace, cousin Ben enters the room and accidentally knocks Lee out with the door. Alvah races upstairs to get smelling salts, and is confused by the number of people in his home. Lee revives and explains both about the cousins and that she has not yet told Mama about the marriage. Alvah immediately tries to tell Mama, but she "faints" before he can finish and Lee rushes him out of the room. That night, Alvah tries to see Lee, who is sleeping in Mama's room, and they manage to sneak into the bathroom. Young cousin Donovan, however, wakes the whole family by knocking on the bathroom door. Alvah tries to escape out the window, but when he accidentally falls out, he tells Mama in exasperation that he is already married to Lee. The next morning, Mama begins her plot to keep the couple from consummating their marriage, hoping they will get an annulment. After rushing Lee off to work, Mama tells Alvah that he cannot provide for her as well as Strouple can, but Alvah ignores her. That night, he searches desperately for a place to be alone with Lee, but just as they begin to kiss, she asks him to sign a contract from Strouple allowing a new cement plant to be built through his house and vineyards. She accepts his refusal to sign, but before they can kiss, it begins to rain and Mama sends the family out to "rescue" them. Soon after, Alvah meets his old friend, Will Stubbins, at Will's bar where the two commiserate about their hometown's new materialism, brought on by the prosperity the cement plant has afforded. Will offers Alvah his apartment for the night, but that night, before Alvah can spirit Lee out of the house, Strouple arrives and offers Alvah a huge settlement to sign the contract. When everyone, including Lee, urges him to sign, Alvah declares that everything is suddenly about money to them, and berates Lee for never asking him what he wants. Calling him selfish, she runs upstairs, and refuses to listen when her aunt Elsa tries to open Lee's eyes to Mama's greed. The next morning, Strouple informs Lee that he is bringing a psychiatrist and lawyer to have Alvah declared incompetent so she will control the rights to his estate. Lee quits in a fury and races home, where she catches her mother smoking and gambling. Realizing that Alvah has been right all along, Lee tries to warn him but is too late. As the doctor declares him "neurotic," Alvah signs the contract, informs Lee she can have everything, and leaves. Lee is despondent until Will calls to tell her that Alvah is heading to his apartment. There, Lee finds Alvah and begins to seduce him. Although armed with air freshener as a shield against Lee's captivating perfume, Alvah nonetheless listens as she promises to get rid of her family and support him. Hearing the clock strike, Alvah realizes he has missed the last train of the evening, and sweeps Lee into his arms.